Last Updated on: October 6, 2022
Whenever you go for a long road trip, listening to some music, podcast, or the news, your car radio makes the ride more enjoyable, right?
However, the listening experience isn’t as fun when you can’t hear anything clearly on your car speakers because of a lack of amplifier power.
Buying an amplifier is the most straightforward solution to achieve a loud sound, but not everyone has the budget to get one.
That’s what we’re here for! To teach you how to increase the volume of your car speakers without an amplifier.
You’d be surprised at how better your speakers can get with minimal investment!
1. Check Your Installation
Sometimes, improper installation is the cause of a speaker’s low volume.
Say you bought an expensive speaker system from JL Audio, DC Audio, or Focal, to name a few. No matter how high-quality they are, a failed installation results in a listening experience that’s mediocre at best.
You can check your installation by prying into your car’s sound system, usually inside the door panels. The cone should move outward when you observe the car speakers as audio plays.
If the cone moves inward, the problem is from an incorrect polarity. If you don’t know what that means, polarity is concerned with the wiring between the car stereo and speakers.
Basically, the car stereo has a positive and negative terminal, while the car speakers have a positive and negative lead. A positive speaker wire should be connected to a positive terminal and vice versa.
If they are interchanged, the speakers will play against each other.
When speakers play against each other, they create distortion and cancel out some sounds, like the mid-bass, resulting in quiet and flat sound quality.
2. Replace Worn Cables And Connectors
Apart from the car audio system itself, the cables that connect them may contribute to the undesired volume level. Even if your speaker cables are protected by plastic, the metal wires inside will inevitably degrade over time.
When wires degrade, so do the electric signals that pass through them, which negatively affects the sound output.
Therefore, it’s best to inspect your cables and connectors every so often and replace them when they are visibly worn out. If you can’t tell the difference, you may get a professional to check them for you.
However, if you’re planning to change the cables yourself, remember that good cables can still be ruined by a flimsy wire cutter and a poor cutting technique.
3. Install Aftermarket Car Speakers
Sometimes, the best method concerning how to make a speaker louder without an amp is to replace the speaker.
Factory-mounted speakers (AKA the speakers that come with your car) aren’t always the best quality. Most of the time, they can’t reproduce the clear sound you’re looking for (i.e. solid bass, fine treble, and good mid-range).
The problem is with sound sensitivity, which refers to the speaker’s ability to convert power into volume. With this in mind, a speaker with higher sensitivity will produce a louder sound per unit of energy.
Typical factory-mounted speakers have a sensitivity of 88 decibels. Some even go as low as 84 decibels, which is perceptibly low!
The problem with lower sensitivity is that it isn’t as efficient in converting power into acoustic energy, which accounts for the low speaker volume – something only an amplifier normally does effortlessly.
Some of that power is converted into heat instead, which will wear down your speaker’s components faster over time.
Thus, you’re looking for a speaker with a sensitivity of 92 decibels for an optimal volume level while maintaining sound quality.
However, we don’t advise going beyond that number. In order to achieve higher sensitivity, specific speaker components have to be compromised, which could distort your car audio.
Of course, installing new speakers isn’t just limited to replacing factory-mounted ones. After all, every speaker degrades over time, no matter the brand and quality.
For example, components like the coils and magnets may wear down, while insects may eat the cones. In these cases, it is necessary to get new aftermarket speakers.
It’s also important to know the three kinds of speakers – passive, active, and powered. Without getting too much into detail, passive speakers need to be powered by an external amp.
This means that you’re looking for either an active or powered speaker. Both of these already have a built-in amplifier.
4. Install Tweeters And Subwoofers
Another way to make car speakers louder without installing an amplifier is by expanding the frequency range of your audio system. You can do this by installing tweeters and subwoofers.
Tweeters are speakers that specialize in high-frequency sounds (2,000-20,000Hz), including cymbals, snare, and synthetic keyboards.
Meanwhile, subwoofer speakers do the opposite. They specialize in low-frequency (20-200Hz) sounds, such as the bass guitar, kick drum, and even low registers from an electric guitar. Subwoofers provide bass and bass boost effect that a lot of people love. More often, it is the bass response most audiophiles look for in a speaker system.
Apart from offering a louder speaker volume, these components add depth and balance to your audio. For example, bass-heavy songs won’t be as enjoyable without a subwoofer.
Look at the speaker system below for some visual reference – the small speaker on the side is the tweeter, the one on the top is the woofer, and the large speaker below is the subwoofer.
Suppose your car already has factory-mounted tweeters and subwoofers. In that case, replacing them with better units should be pretty straightforward since there’s already existing housing for them.
However, if your car didn’t already come with these components (or you want to add extra units), you may need to modify your car to provide sufficient housing.
This task becomes harder with subwoofers because they are significantly bigger than tweeters. Plus, they create larger sound waves, so they are more sensitive to distortions.
It’s best to have professionals install subwoofers and tweeters for you if you’re modifying your car’s housing.
5. Consider Noise Damping
A crucial factor in learning how to increase the volume of speakers without an amplifier is damping. This technique is concerned with minimizing external noises, such as rattling.
Damping is pretty simple for a home speaker system and computer speaker because they are only in one place. However, a car audio system is constantly moving, making it prone to vibrations from road impact.
You can determine if external noises affect your car speakers by observing the sound quality (i.e. sound wave garble) when your car isn’t moving, then observing again while you’re driving the car.
This isn’t much of a problem if you drive a high-end, luxury car, but otherwise, road noises can be a real sound killer!
If your speakers are enclosed in bare metal, vibrations can be transferred easily, which will result in distortion. Therefore, you need to ensure that your sound system’s enclosure has proper damping to prevent these noises.
You can fix this by adding a layer of sound-deadening material to your car’s interior, which will absorb the road impact noises.
Additionally, this minimizes any strange vibration around your sound system, such as wires or locking mechanisms that may rattle against your car’s interior.
Apart from the car speakers’ enclosure, you can also try noise damping in other parts of the car that are prone to vibrations, such as the engine or floor spaces.
However, it’s better to leave the soundproofing to professionals if you don’t have enough experience to do it yourself.
Once you have proper soundproofing in your car, the most noticeable improvement you will notice is clearer sound reproduction (crisper treble, fuller volume, and deeper bass output)! The same could also be said if you have a bluetooth speaker system and would like to make your bluetooth speaker louder.
6. Improve The Seal Around Your Speakers
One of the most inexpensive ways to make car speakers louder without an amplifier is to seal them properly into your car’s housing.
You can do this by using gasket tape, a foam material with an adhesive layer. Gasket tape is usually applied along the area where the speakers are mounted to the car.
The tape fills up any gaps between the speakers and the car panels, minimizing rattling and preventing air passage around the speakers.
When the air from the back of the speaker passes through the front, distortion and cancellation may occur. Therefore, it’s necessary to separate the air through sealing.
Although all speakers perform better with proper sealing, it’s particularly beneficial for subwoofers since they produce large sound waves. Gasket tape is a cheap but effective way to maintain those lovely bass sounds!
7. Add A Capacitor
Whenever you play a bass-heavy song at high volumes, you may notice your enclosure vibrating or subwoofer rattling once your car stereo volume gets louder.
In this case, the subwoofer may not be receiving enough power supply to perform at its best, which affects the overall sound quality.
This is where a capacitor comes into play. A capacitor acts like a small battery that supplies the subwoofer with enough power during bass-heavy songs. Consider this as your mini external amplifier to bring out a louder bass output.
However, it doesn’t continuously provide this power. Instead, the capacitor stores energy and only supplies it to the subwoofer when peak performance is demanded.
When you’re adding a capacitor to your car audio system, ensure there’s enough ventilation and insulation around the device to avoid the risk of overheating and short-circuiting it.
8. Install Other Add-Ons
The last step on how to amplify speakers without an amplifier is to install some add-ons.
These often help control and tune your speaker to produce a better sound and improve frequency response. It’s the same concept of buying small gadgets to help you tune an acoustic guitar.
You can find a wide variety of these gadgets on the market. Each add-on has an advantage of its own, such as portability, accessibility, and convenience.
For example, you can buy a signal processor or an equalizer to balance the sound quality of your speakers.
Meanwhile, you can install a Bluetooth speaker system to eliminate wirings, which prevents the possibility of cables rattling against your car.
What you choose comes down to your audio needs. Just make sure you know what you’re doing, as the improper use of add-ons may do more harm than good to your listening experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
What tools do I need when accessing a speaker?
The combination of your car model and the audio system opens up many possibilities for the tools you need.
There is no universal list of tools to prepare, as specific tools may be insufficient for some but unnecessary for others.
With that in mind, here are some of the most common tools that are used when dealing with car speakers:
- Trimming tool
- Allen wrench/Socket wrench
- Power drill
- Electrical tape
Do I really need professional help when making changes to my speaker?
Yes, we have given plenty of precautions throughout this guide to call professionals if you’re not confident with your skills. Without the proper tools and skills, you may end up breaking the speaker, its cables, or certain components of your car.
Getting these items fixed would end up costing more than an amplifier. That would defeat the purpose of this guide! If you think you can follow instructions, by all means, then do these methods yourself. Otherwise, have someone do them for you.
What if my speaker still has a low volume?
If you’ve done all of these methods but the sound volume is still disappointing, then the problem may be from your audio files or your car stereo’s settings. When it comes to audio files, they can be compressed to reduce the file size. This is why you see options like 128kbps or 320 kbps when downloading audio files.
However, too much compression can negatively affect audio quality, so make sure that the files you’re playing aren’t excessively compressed. Meanwhile, you may also experience issues with your stereo’s tuning, especially when you maximize all settings at once.
For example, a hefty bass boost would create distortions and block out other sounds. Therefore, we recommend checking your stereo’s loudness, treble, balance, fader, and other settings.
If you’ve ever owned a guitar before, you know that a guitar amp can be pretty pricy. The same goes for a car speaker amplifier.
Luckily, there are many ways to make your car speakers louder without breaking the bank.
Plus, these methods can reduce distortions and cancellations, leading to a better audio output overall.
With that being said, feel free to try these tricks on how to amplify speakers without an amplifier. We hope that you find what works best for you. Happy listening!